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The Cycle

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Cia 31, Us 8, Mr. Brennan 7, U.s. 5, John Brennan 4, United States 4, Benghazi 3, Dianne Feinstein 3, Afghanistan 2, Madame 2, Feinstein 2, Osama Bin 2, Wyden 2, Mr. Asiri 2, America 2, Richard Clarke 1, Leon Panetta 1, Fran Townsend 1, Roger Cressey 1, Kate Haydn 1,
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  MSNBC    The Cycle    News/Business. Politics, the economy, media, sports  
   and any other issues that grab people's attention. New.  

    February 7, 2013
    12:00 - 12:59pm PST  

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crumbling of the soviet union. weapons of mass destruction were a concern and u.s. officials were hard at work around the globe trying to prevent regional tensions and an mos if is from turning in to full-scale wars and ominously, the united states about to face an upsurge in terrorist attacks to claim hundreds of american lives in lebanon including a 49-year-old cia officer named bob ames killed in a brief visit to our embassy in beirut and who at the time was my boss at cia. during my 25-year career at cia, i watched up close and participated in history being made in far off corners of the world. as cia fulfilled the critical intelligence roles, collecting intelligence, uncovering secrets, identifying threats, partnering with foreign intelligence and security agencies, carrying out covert action and attempting to forecast events yet to happen, all in an effort to protect our
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people and to strengthen america's national security. and throughout my career, i had the great fortune to experience firsthand and to witness what it means to be a cia officer. such as an analyst, who has the daunting task and tremendous responsibility to take incomplete and frequently contradictory information and advise the senior most policymakers of our government about foreign, political, military and economic developments. our an operations officer whose job it is to find and obtain the elusive secret that is provide advance warning of surprise, political turbulence, plots, violence, cyberattacks and threats such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation. or a technical expert who seeks new and creative ways to find nuggets of intelligence in tremendous volumes of data, provide secure and stealthy intelligence collection and communications systems and counter the latest technological
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threats to our nation or a support officer or manager with the responsibility to ensure that the core missions of the agency collecting intelligence, providing all-source analysis and when directed by the president conducting covert action are carried out with skill, speed, agility and proficiency. from the middle east to the central caucuses, africa to central and south america, from the vast expanses of asia to the great cities of europe, and all countries and regions in between, cia officers were there. sometimes in force. sometimes virtually standing alone. and for those 25 years, it was a great honor for me to be a cia officer. as i knew that the agency's contributions to this country's security as invaluable as they were innumerable. i had the good fortune of other opportunities professionally. for three years as president and chief executive officer of a private sector company learning
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firsthand very important lessons about fiduciary responsibility and sound business practices. and for the past four years i have had the privilege to serve as the president's porinciple policy adviser in that role i have had the opportunity to work daily with some of the finest americans i have ever met, from the intelligence, military, homeland security, law enforcement and diplomatic communities who have dedicated their lives to the safety and security of fellow americans. it is because of the work of those americans serving dmixally and especially those serving in dangerous places abroad that we are able to experience the freedom and security that are the hallmarks of our nation. i believe my cia background and other professional experiences prepared me well for the challenge of leading the world's premier intelligence agency at this moment in history which is as dynamic and consequential as any in recent decades and continue to be in the years ahead. simply stated, the need for
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accurate intelligence and analysis of cia has never been greater than it is in 2013 or than it will be in the coming years. historic political, economic and -- continue to sweep through the middle east and north africa with major implications for our interests. israel. >> security, our arab partners and the prospects of peace and stability in the region. we remain at war with al qaeda and associated forces which despite the substantial progress made against them still seek to carry out deadly strikes strikes. u.s. computer networks are under daily attack by nation states. international criminal organizations, sub national groups and individual hackers. and regimes in teheran and po pyongyang remain bent on delivery systems rather than fulfilling international obligations or even meeting the basic needs of their people.
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yes, the cia's mission as important to our nation's security today as any time in our nation's history. in carrying out the mission, the men and women of the cia frequently asked to undertake challenging, perilous and, yes, controversial actions on behalf of the american people. the cia is not immune from the scrutiny of the efforts and i welcome a discussion of cia's past and current activities. if i am confirmed one of the highest priorities would be the committ committee's lengthy report of interrogation with now banned interrogation techniques. i have read the findings and executive summary of the 6,000 page report which raises a number of very serious issues. given the gravity and importance of the subject, i would look forward to further dialogue with members of the committee on the report and the findings if i'm confirmed. in addition, some of our government's current counterterrorism policies and operations sparked widespread debate, domestically,
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internationally and in this room. i have publicly acknowledged that the fight against al qaeda and associated forces has sometimes involved the use of lethal force outside the battlefield of afghanistan. accordingly, it is understandable that there's great interest in the legal basis and the thresholds, criteria, processes, procedures, approvals and reviews of such actions. i have strongly promoted such public discussion with the congress and with the american people. as i believe that our system of government and our commitment to transparency demand nothing less. as the elected representatives of the american people and as members of this committee, you have the obligation to oversee the activities of the cia and the other elements of the intelligence committee to ensure that they are being carried out effectively, lawfully, successfully and without regard to partisanship. if confirmed, i would endeavor to keep this committee fully and currently informed, not only because it is required by law
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but because you can neither perform your oversight function nor support the mission of cia if you are kept in the dark. and i know that irrespective of that fullness of dialogue there will be occasions you disagree just as you disagree among yourselves of activities of the cia. such disagreement is healthy and is a necessary part of our democratic process. but such disagreement should never prevent us from carrying out the national security and intelligence responsibilities. as a failure to do so could have devastating consequences for the safety and security of all americans. during my courtesy calls with many of you i heard repeated references to a trust deficit that has at times existed between this committee and the cia. if i am confirmed, a trust deficit between the committee and the cia would be wholly unacceptable to me and i would make it my goal on day one of my tenure and every day thereafter to strengthen the trust between
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us. i have a representation for speaking my mind and at times doing so in a rather direct manner which some attribute to my new jersey roots. i like to think that my candor and bluntness will reassure you to get straight answers from me, maybe not always the ones you like but you will get answers and reflect any honest views. that's the commitment i make to you. i would like to finish by saying a few words about the importance of taking care of the women and men who serve in the cia. because of the secrecy that intelligence work requires, few americans will ever know the extraordinary sacrifices that these professionals and their families make every day. many of them risk their lives and at times have given their lives to keep us safe. if confirmed i would make it my mission in partnership with the congress to ensure that the men and women have the training, trade craft, linguistic skills, technical tools, guidance, supervision and leadership they need to do their jobs. they also need assurance that we'll do all we can to protect our nation's secrets and prevent
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leaks of classified information. these leaks damage our national security, sometimes gravely, putting these cia employees at risk and making their missions much more difficult. the men and women of the cia are a national treasure and i will consider it one of my most important responsibilities to take care of them just as others took care of me arriving at langley as a young trainee in 1980. chairman, vice chairman and members of the economy tee, when you arrive at cia headquarters in langley and enter the main lobby, you see the marble memorial war, on it are stars representing a member of the family who gave his or her life in the service of this nation. today, there are 103 stars on that wall. to me, and everyone in the cia, they are not simply stars. nor are they only visible remembrances of dearly ll lly
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colleagues and friends. it's patriots who lived their lives loving this country and died protecting it. that memorial wall means something very special to me and to every other american who proudly served as the agency. i want all cia employees always to be proud of the organization to which they belong and to be proud of all of its activities. and if given the honor to serve as the 1 21st director of the cia, i would take it as a sacred obligation to make sure that central intelligence agency is the best it can be and one that makes all americans proud. thank you very much and i look forward to taking your questions. >> thank you, very much, mr. brennan. i have five short questions that we traditionally ask. if you would just answer them yes or no. do you agree to appear before the committee -- >> chairman of the senate -- >> excuse me. do agree to appear before the committee or other venues when invited? >> yes.
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>> do you a gree to send personnel when invited? >> yes. >> do you agree to provide documents or any other materials requested by the committee in order for it to carry out its oversight and legislative responsibilities? >> yes, all documents under my authority. >> we'll talk to you more about that in a minute. will you ensure that the cia and officials provide such material to the committee when requested? >> yes. >> do you agree to inform and fully brief to the fullest extent possible all members of this committee of intelligence activities and covert actions rather than only the chairman and vice chairman? >> yes, i will endeavor to do that. >> thank you. now, let me -- and we are going to go in to eight-minute rounds and we'll do it by seniority and alternate from side to side. i wanted to talk about just for a moment the provision of
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documents. senator wyden and others have had much to do about this but our job is to provide oversight to try to see that the cia and the intelligence communities operate legally. in order to do that, it is really necessary to understand what the legal, official legal interpretation is. so the office of legal counsel opinions become very important. >> you are in "the cycle" and i spy a contentious confirmation hearing for john brennan. the chairwoman of the senate select committee on intelligence dianne feinstein cleared the room following a series of interruptions, protesting america's use of drones. >> i think they're not going to -- >> the spies.
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assassination. >> and expect more fireworks as brennan is grilled by other members of the committee. nbc's kelly o'donnell is following the action live on capitol hill. where are we right now? >> reporter: well, this is quite a day. if you are interested in this kind of policy, there was so much to watch today and so much that will yet unfold. it really is fascinating. and what you see with the protests, when's unusual here, there are protests on a regular basis around capitol hill. but the scale, how many people were involved, how loud they were, the signs, the clearing of the hearing room, that is unusual. we haven't seen that really since the early days of the iraq war. so it is significant. and of course, john brennan has a long history in the intelligence community spanning administrations. and this is a job he very much wants and he does have the votes from all indications. and his hearing would have otherwise been quite different if the news had not surfaced through michael isikoff of the
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unclassified version of the analysis on drones. that prompted as you know the white house to go to this committee and senator feinstein, the chair, asking for more information, more transparency and they're making available the classified version to a select number of members of this committee who have an oversight responsibility. that is a very big breakthrough because there are progressive senators fighting for that for a couple of years unsuccessfully. knows there's a critical mass moment with john brennan on the hot seat here, the white house made that available. it will generate questions. many of those questions may not be in the open. might be part of classified settings. but it really presents what is a big national conversation about the role of these drones in this sort of period where technology is such a big part of the u.s. strategic view of trying to protect the country and a presence around the world. it is a lot of kind of a new world in terms of what's
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possible, creating new questions for people to debate so it's important on policy, important on politics and it is very relevant so this is one of the more interesting days when these hearings are so meaty and earlier in the day we heard of secretary panetta and the chairman of the joint chiefs dempsey on the benghazi attack. there was a lot of meat and substance in that, as well. worthy of a lot of scrutiny. these are interesting topics and the senators take it seriously to try to find out more and brn nan would be responsible for so much of this if he does go to the cia as expected. >> thank you so much. now back to the hearings. >> there clearly were a number of things, many things, that i read in that report that were very concerning and disturbing to me and ones that i would want to look in to immediately if i were to be confirmed as cia director. talked about misimaginement of
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the programs. misrepresentations of the information, inaccurate information and it was damning in the language as far as the nature of activities carried out. i am eager to see the agency's response to that report. i read those 300 pages. i look forward if confirmed to reading the entire 6,000-page volume because it is of such gravity and importance. but, chairman, i do not yet have and nor has the cia finished its review of this information. that committee's report was done obviously with a very extended period of time, tremendous amount of work in it based on the review of documentary information that was available. the documents that were not interviews with cia officers. i very much look forward to hearing from the cia on that and then coming back to this committee an giving you my full and honest views. >> well, thank you. you will have that opportunity,
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i assure you. i'd like to ask you about the status of the administration's efforts to institutionalize rules and procedures for the conduct of drone strikes. in particular, how you see your role as cia director in that approval process. >> chairman, as this committee knows and i'm sure wants to continue to protect certain covert action activities, but let me talk generally about the program and the role of cia and this effort to try to institutionalize and to ensure we have as rigorous a process as possible that we feel we're taking the appropriate actions at the appropriate time. the president has insisted that any actions we take will be
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legally grounded, will be thoroughly anchored in intelligence, will have the appropriate review process, approval process before any action is contemplated including those actions that might involve the use ofletal force. the different parts of the government involved this process involved in the interagency and my role was to help to orchestrate the effort over four years to ensure that any actions we take fully comport with our law and meet the standards that i think this committee and the american people expect of us as far as taking the actions we need to protect the american people and same time ensuring that we do everything possible before we need to resort to lethal force. >> thank you. mr. vice chairman, please? >> thanks very much, madame chair. mr. brennan, the 9/11 commission report describes a cancel 1998
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cia operation to capture osama bin laden using travel groups in afghanistan. former head of cia bin laden's staff said you convinced them to cancel that operation. they said following a meeting with you and others, that you gave sandy berger saying the operation should be canceled in favor of a different approach described by the 9/11 commission as a, quote, an all-out secret effort to persuade the taliban to expel bin laden. now, as we know, bin laden was not expelled. three months later, the bin laden wrath was unleashed with the attack on our embassies. did you advise senator director tenet and national security adviser berger against this operation and if so why? >> i had conversation with george tenet at the time. but i must point out, senator,
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that every single cia manager, george tenet, his deputy, the head of the director of operations at the time, chief of the counterterrorism center argued against that operation, as well. because it was not well grounded in intelligence and it chance of success were minimal. minimal. and it was likely that other individuals were going to be kilned. and so, when i was involved in those discussions, i provided the director and others my programal advice of whether or not i thought that that operation should go forward. i also was engaged in discussions with saudi arabia government at the time and encouraged certain actions to be taken to put pressure on the taliban and bin laden. >> i'm taking it your answer to my question is you did advise against -- in favor of the kans collation of that operation. >> i didn't think it was a worthwhile operation and didn't have a chance of success.
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>> the 9/11 commission reported that no capture plan before 9/11 ever again detailed preparation. do you have any second thoughts about your recommendations to the director to cancel that operation? >> senator, i have no second thoughts whatsoever about my sad vice which was to look carefully because the chances of success was minimal. i was not in the chain of command at the time. i was serving abroad as chief of operation. >> you received the daily updates from the time of zabada's capture and interrogation and the lawfulness of the techniques putting you in a position to express any concerns you had about the program. before any of the most controversial techniques and waterboarding were ever used. we found that minimum of 50 memos in the documents within
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the 6,000 pages that -- on which you were copied. what steps did you take to stop cia from moving to these techniques you say you found objectionable at the time? >> i did not take steps to stop the cia's use of those techniques. i was not in the chain of command of that program. i was deputy executive director at the time. i had responsibility for management of the agency and the various functions and i was aware of the program. i was cc'd on some documents but i had no oversight of it. i had expressed personal objections and views to my -- some agency colleagues about certain of those eits like waterboarding and nudity and professed personal objections to it but i did not try to stop it because it was done in a different part of the agency under the authority of others and it was something that was directed by the administration
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at the time. >> now you say you expressed your objection to other colleagues. did you express any concern to director tenet, executive director croneguard or any of the other cia leaders? >> i had a number of conversations can agency colleagues on a broad range of issues during that period of time not just on this program. other ones. we would have personal conversations beyond this. >> my reason particularly for naming those individuals is that they were the ones directly above you. one quoted in the press saying he never heard from you. he doesn't doubt that you did this but he says he never heard from you. we just have not seen anybody who's come forward and said they ever heard any objections from you with respect to these programs. moving on, your boss at cia told "the wall street journal" you had a role in setting the parameters of the program and i quote helping to seek justice
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department approval for the techniques. he went on to say that john would have been part and parcel of that process. how does that comport with your reresponse to the committee you played no role in the program's and i quote again of execution or oversight? >> i respectfully disagree. i was not involved. i think in the same article he goes on to say it was not involved in a lot of elements of that program. but i was not involved in the establishment of the program. again, i had awareness that the agency was going forward on this and some visibility in to the activities there but i was not part of any type of management structure or aware of most of the details. >> that being the case, why would you be the recipient of a minimum of 50 e-mails, mr. brennan, on the progress of the
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interrogation of zabada and the techniques used in that procedure? >> i was on thousands upon thousands of e-mail distributions as deputy executive director. i think i was cc'den identity. i know of no action to reprioritize funds or anything along those lines. >> croneguard said to be an advocate of siri techniques. did you raise any objection? >> i don't recall any conversation with him about that particular issue. >> when you reviewed the intelligence cia was getting on zabada, did you think the information was valuable? >> the reports that i was getting subsequent to that and in the years after that it was
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clearly my indication there's valuable information coming out. >> in a november 2007 interview, you said that information from the interrogation techniques, quote, saved lives. closed quote. but you also say that cia should be out of the detention business. the main benefit that i saw in cia's program was the ability to hold and question individuals about whom there was significant intelligence that they were terrorists. but not necessarily evidence that could be used a court of law. your view seems to be that even if we could save american lives by detainingterrorists, it would be better to kill them with a drone or let them go free rather than detain them. can you explain the logic in that argument? >> i disagree. i never believe it's better to kill a terrorist than to detain him. we want to detain as many terrorists as possible to elicit the intelligence from them in an appropriate manner so that we
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can disrupt follow-on terrorist attacks so i'm a strong proponent of everything short of killing terrorists, bringing them to justice and getting the intelligence from them. i had the impression as you said when i was quoted in 2007 there's valuable intelligence of those interrogation sessions. that's why i did say they saved lives. i must tell you, senator, raising this report of the committee raises serious questions of the information i was given at the time. now i have to determine what based on that information as well as what cia says what the truth is and at this point, senator, i do not know what the truth is. >> how many targets captured in your service with the administration? >> there have been a number of individuals who have been captured, arrested, detained, interrogated, debriefed and put away by our partners overseas. which is we have given them the capacity now, provided intelligence and unlike in the
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immediate aftermath of 9/11 countries unwilling and unable to do it we have given them an opportunity and that's where we're working with partners. >> how many high-value tar gets have been arrested and detained and interrogated by the united states during your four years with the administration? >> i'll be happy to get that information to you, senator, in terms of those high-value tar gets that have been captured with u.s. intelligence support. >> i submit to you the answer to that is one. and it's wasarmi put on a ship for 60 days and interrogated. thank you. >> thank you very much. i want to point out that i'm going to try and enforce the eight minutes. if you hear a tapping, it is not personal. senator rockefeller? >> thank you, mr. ma'am madame chair. welcome, mr. brennan.
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if confirmed you are going to lead an extraordinary agency with extraordinary people who perform extraordinary services. most of them totally unknown by the american people. most people don't think about that. what it is -- never have it known. those of us who sit up here do a life of public service and want everything we do to be known. that's how we get elected. it's a very different ethic than the central intelligence agency and i respect it very much. i want to go the earned income tax credit, to the enhanced interrogation techniques. i'm for both. not for the second. >> no, you're not. >> for the first. you talk about the 6,000 pages. what i want to say and if the second round comes, i will. i will pour out my frustration of the sen federal intelligence agency and dealing with dealing
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with various administrations about trying to get information. why was it that they felt that we were so unworthy of being trusted? why was it they were willing to talk to pat roberts, me or sax xi chambliss and dianne feinstein and not anybody else until we literally bludgeoned in to agreeing to include everybody? like carl levin's not trustworthy? you know, it is amazing. i pursued dianne feinstein's point about staff. when you go and you have under the previous administration a briefing with the president, the vice president, under the head of the cia, others, you're not allowed to -- i can remember driving with pat roberts when he was chairman and i was vice chairman. we weren't allowed to talk to each other. driving up or driving back.
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weren't allowed to do that. staff were a part of nothing. you have to understand that you're surrounded by people who work with you and fill you in. people who are experts. we are, too. but they got to be part of this. they got to be part of when the olc is -- it should come to them, also. i strongly support the chairwoman's view on that. now, in the enhanced interrogation techniques matter, a handful of former senior cia officials who were personally invested and are personally invested in defending the cia's detention and interrogation program, largely because their professional reputations depend on it, depend on it, purport to speak for the cia and its workforce on this issue and i think it does all a great disservice. in my office, you an i discussed the committee's landmark report
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on this program. you do understand that this took six years to write. not just 6,000 pages but six years to write. perhaps longer. 23,000, 30,000 footnotes. why did we do this? we heard nothing from the intelligence agency. we had no way of being briefed. they would not tell us what was going on. so we had to do our conversation and we're pretty good at it. and when you read those first 350 pages, you told me that you were shocked. at some of what you read. you did not know that. and that to me is shocking. but not to condemn anybody, simply says that has to be fixed and changed forever. there never can be that kind of situation again where we have to tell you what's going wrong in your agency and thus demoralizing some of the people in your agency who want to be relieved of the burden and the
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taint of bad techniques and interrogation. they suffer from that. and yet nobody would talk with us about that. we had to get that information on our own. i think it's a piece of history. it will go down in history because it will define the separation of powers as between the intelligence committees of the house and senate and the agency and other that is relate to it. i'm also aware that this is crucial to the president's authority. not just on the more modern question of the day about drones but, you know, that determination is made by one person and one person alone. and if there is a breakdown in protoc protocol, if there is a breakdown if line of command, in reacting therefore in to
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something which is not good, where there's too much collateral damage, i think she said this, that the work of the drone had been fairly safe. however, any collateral damage is unacceptable and has to be the purpose of the agency. and therefore, this detention interrogation program i've got to say it was the people who ran it were ig nornorant of the top. managed by senior officials who did not pay attention to crucial details and corrupted by personnel with pecuniary interests, sold to the policymakers at the white house, department of justice and congress with grossly inflated claims. so-called lives saved. it was a low point in our history. and this document, this book,
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should change that forever. i would hope very much that you would -- if you are confirmed, which i hope you will be, that you will make parts of this, at your discretion, required reading for your senior personnel. so they can go through the same experience that you went through. are you willing to do that? >> yes, senator, i am looking forward to taking advantage of whatever lessons come out of this chapter in our history and this committee's report. >> how do you cross reference and tell me when i'm out of town? >> eight seconds. no, 1:08. a long time. >> the cross referencing of the eit disaster and the future of the drone and the decisions that
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only the president, of course, can authorize that, but the decisions sometimes is passed down and has to be passed down at a very accurate manner. and there have to be a protocol which is exact, more exact even than the interrogation techniques because i think that's probably been put to bed just a bit. beginning to get straightened out but the drones are going to grow. there's going to be more and more of that warfare. not just by us but by other countries and perhaps by people within our own country so the protocol of that insofar as it would refer to a particular agency is going to have to be exact and directed and of particular excellence and exact-itude. >> i'm interested in finding out what went wrong, if this report is as stated accurate, what went wrong in the system where there
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were systemic failures, where there was mismanagement or inaccurate information put forward? there are cohert action activities taking place today under the direction of management of the cia. and i would have the obligation to make sure to say to the committee covert action programs are being run effectively, well managed, overseen and the measures of e effect giveness, the results of those programs are an accurate and fair representation of what actually is happening. this report raises serious questions of whether or not there's serious systemic issues at play here. i would need to get my arms around that and that would be one of my highest priorities if i go to the agency. >> i thank you, madame chair. >> thank you. senator burr? >> thank you. mr. brennan, welcome. thank you for your long history of public service and to your family, thank you for your willingness to put up with his hobby.
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most if not all of the intelligence that our committee receives is the finished analysis that's derived from source reports and other raw intelligence materials that we don't see and i might say we don't need to see all of. in order to ensure that we can perform our oversight duties of the intelligence committee, would you agree that the committee should be able to review all analytical product if requested? >> on the face of that question, yes. my answer would be question but i have to take a look at the issues involved in terms of, nlg, what are we talking about in terms of okay ses analytical information? your intention and what i think your objective is, i fully support in terms of making sure this committee has the breadth of analytical expertise available from the agency. >> as we go forward, there may be times the committee needs the
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raw intelligence to judge the accuracy of analytical product provided. if confirmed, will you provide the raw intelligence on those occasions when the committee requests it? >> i would give every request of this commit fee full consideration. that's my commitment to you. >> do yaw agree that it's a function of this xhilt tee's oversight that occasionally we would need to look at it? >> i would agree it's probably a function of your oversight to have interest in doing that and my obligation i think as director of cia to try to be as accommodating as possible to that interest while at the same time trying to respect whatever considerations need to be taken in to account as we do that. >> mr. brennan, as you know, the committee's conducting a thorough inquiry to n to the attacks of benghazi, libya. the cia delayed and in some
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cases flattery refused to provide documents to this committee. if confirmed, will you assure this committee that this refusal will never happen again? >> i can commit to you, senator, that i would do everything in my ability and my authority to be able to reach an accommodation with this committee that requests documents because an impasse between the executive branch and the legislative branch of issues of such importance is not in the interests of the united states government and so it would be my objective to see if we could meet those interests. at the same time, the founding fathers did separate the branches an i want to be mindful of that separation and same time meet your legitimate sblinteres >> they also gave us the power of the purse. >> fully aware of that. >> i would suggest that's the only tool and one we hate to use. >> yes. >> do you think there's any situation where it's legal to disclose to the media or the public these tales of covert
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action programs? >> i do not think it is ever appropriate to improperly disclose classified information to anybody who does not have legitimate access to it and has the clearances for it. >> let me clarify. i didn't ask for classified information. >> right. >> i specifically said covert action programs. >> by definition, covert action programs are classified. >> i realize that. >> right. so i do not believe it is appropriate to improperly disclose those details related to covert action programs. >> let me point out that in the committee prehearing questions you didn't really answer a question that dealt with specific instances and in where you are authorized to disclose classified information to reporters so could you provide
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for the committee any times that you were given the authority to release classified information? >> i was -- i was never provided classifies information to reporters. i engaged in discussions with reporters about classified issues they might have had access to because of unfortunate leaks of classified information and i frequently work with reporters if not editors of newspapers to keep out of the public domain some of this country's most important secrets and so i engage with them on those issues but after working in the intelligence profession for, you know, 30 years and being at cia for 25 years i know the importance of keeping those secrets secret. >> have any of your kof conversations about intelligence matters recorded or transcriptions of it? >> i believe there have been. i have been on news network
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shows and engaged in conversations on the telephone and other things that i presume and i know that they have been recorded on occasion. >> have you specifically asked for them not to be recorded? >> whenever i talk to reporters, i do so at the request of the white house press office and there are ground rules established there and i'm not the one to establish those ground rules about whether or not they would be recorded or not. >> you said in your responses to prehearing questions in exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to acknowledge classified information to a member of the media. did you tell media comment tato that the united states had inside information on the bomb plot of may of last year? >> i had a teleconference with some officials of previous administrations who were going to be out on talk shows on the night that an ied was intercepted. and so, i discussed with them that some of the aspects of
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that, because i was on the shows the following day, make sure they understood the nature of the threat and what it was and what it wasn't and what i said at the time because i said i couldn't talk about the operational details and this was shortly after the anniversary of the bin laden takedown, i said it was never a threat to the american public as we said so publicly because we had inside control of the plot and the device was never a threat to the american public. >> did you think that that comment actually exposed sources or methods? >> no, senator, i did not. there is an ongoing investigation i must say about the unfortunate leak of information that was very, very damaging and i have voluntarily cooperated with the department of justice on that and have been interviewed on it. >> well, let me just say as one overseas shortly after that, i certainly had on numerous occasions u.s. officials who expressed to me the challenges
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they have gone through to try to make apologies to our partners and i personally sat down in london to have that apology conversation and it was very disruptive. very quickly, did you provide any classified or otherwise sensitive information to reporters or media consultants regarding the details of the abadibad raid? >> no, i did not, senator. >> then do you know who disclosed information that prompted the secretary of defense robert gates to advise the white house to tell people to shut up? >> you would have to ask senator gates what he was referring to because i don't know. >> in conclusion, let me just go back to the initial questions that the chair referred to. and in that, i think you might have taken her request on documents to be the documents that we've got joud instanting right now. i think she was referring to the future. i hope you take the opportunity if you haven't already to send
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back to the administration, it is absolutely essential that the documents of this committee has requested on benghazi be supplied before the confirmation moves forward. i realize i'm not saying you're part of it but it's absolutely essential that we get those documents before we begin a new administration at the cia and i hope you will deliver that message. i thank you. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you very much, senator. senator wyden? >> thank you. mr. brennan, thank you for our discussions and for the joint meeting that you had with several of us on the committee last week. as we discussed then, i believe the issues before us really have nothing to do with political party and have everything to do with the checks and balances that make our system of government so special. taking the fight to al qaeda is something every member of this committee feels strongly about. it's the idea of giving any president unfettered power to
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kill an american without checks and balances that's so troubling. every american has the right to know when their government believes it's allowed to kill them. and ensuring that the congress has the documents and information it needs to conduct robust oversight is central to our democracy. in fact, the committee was actually created in large part in response to lax oversight of programs that involve targeted killings. so it was encouraging last night when the president called and indicated that effective immediately he would release the documents necessary for senators to understand the full legal analysis of the president's authority to conduct the targeted killing of an american. what the president said is a good first step towards ensuring the openness and accountability that's important and you heard that reaffirmed in the chair's strong words right now. since last night, however, i
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have become concerned that the department of justice is not following through with the president's commitment just yet. 11 united states senators asked to see any and all legal opinions but when i went to read the opinions this morning, it is not clear that that is what was provided. and moreover, on this point with respect to lawyers, i think what the concern is is there's double standard. you volunteered, you weren't a lawyer, you asked your lawyers and your experts to help you and we're trying to figure out how to wade through all these documents and one of the reasons i'm concerned that it's not yet clear that what the president committed to has actually been provided. finally, on this committee, the committee is stone wawalled wit respect the secret law and i'm
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going to leave this point by saying i hope you go back to the white house and convey to them the message that the justice department is not yet following through on the president's commitment. will you convey that message? >> yes, i will, senator. >> very good. let me now move to the public side of oversight. making sure that the public's right to know is respected. one part of oversight is congressional oversight. our doing our work here. the other is making sure that the american people are brought in these debates just like james madison said. this is what you need to preserve a republic. and i want to start with the drone issue. in a speech last year, the president instructed you to be more open with the public about the use of drones to conduct targeted killings of al qaeda members. so my question is, what should be done next to ensure that
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public conversation about drones so that the american people are brought in to this debate and have a full understanding of what rules the government's going to observe when it conducts targeting killing? >> i think this hearing is one of the things that can be done because i think this type of discourse is critically important. i believe there need to be continued speeches that are going to be given by the executive branch to explain the counterterrorism programs. i think there's a misimpression on some american people who believe we take strikes to punish terroristses for past transgressi transgressions. nothing could be fourther from the truth. we only take actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking a ast to mitigate that threat so we need to make sure there's an understanding and the people that were standing up here today, i think they really have a misunderstanding of what we do as a government and the
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care we take and the agony we go through to make sure we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths. as the chairman said earlier, the need to be able to say that publicly and openly i think is krit cll important because people are reacting to a lot of falsehoods out there and i see it as part of my obligation and the obligation of the committee to make sure the truth is known to the public and the world. >> i'm also convinced there's parts of drone policy that can be declassified consistent with national security and i hope that you will work with me on that if you're confirmed. let me ask you several other questions with respect to the president's authority to kill americans. i've asked you how much evidence the president needs to decide that a particular american can be lawfully killed and whether the administration believes that the president can use this authority inside the united states. my judgment, both the congress and the public need to
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understand the answers to these kind of fundamental questions. what do you think needs to be done to ensure that members of the public understand more about when the government thinks it's allowed to kill them, particularly with respect to those two issues? question of evidence and the authority to use this power within the united states? >> i have been a strong p proponent of being as open as far as with the programs explaining what we are doing and we i don't think it's one or the it's trying to optimize both of them. what we need to do is make sure to explain to the people who are the thresholds for action. the office of legal advice has the legal boundaries of operating.
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it doesn't mean we operate at those outer boundaries and i think the american people are quite pleased to know that we have been very disciplined, very judicious and use the authorities and these capabilities as a last resort. >> one other point with respect to public oversight. if the executive branch makes a mistake and kills the wrong person or a group of the wrong people, how should the government acknowledge that? >> i believe we need to acknowledge it. i believe we need to acknowledge it to our foreign partners. we need to acknowledge it publicly. there are certain circumstances where there are considerations to be taken in to an account but as far as i'm concerned if there is this type of action that takes place in the interest of transparency, i believe the united states government should acknowledge it. >> and publicly in. >> that is -- that would be the ideal and that would be the aboutive of the program. >> one last question if i might. in my letter to you i noted i'm
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asking for a year to receive the names of any and all countries where the intelligence agency usedletal authorities. would you provide the list to our committee and staff? ? >> i know this is an outstanding request on your start. we discussed it. if i were to be confirmed as director of cia i would get back to you and it would be my intention to do everything to meet the legitimate interests and requests. >> i'm going to wrap up on this point, chair feinstein. it's a matter of public record that the raid that killed osama bin laden carried out around the authority of cia director leon panetta and tells you right there that the intelligence community'slettal authorities used in at least one country. if the authorities are used in any other countries, you will provide this committee with the full list. now, will you give us that assurance? >> you're talking about a
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historical list, are you not? as far as any time anywhere that the cia was involved in such a lethal -- >> yes. >> i would have to go back and take a look at that request. certainly anything that i were if to go to cia, i would damn well make sure that this committee had that information. absolutely. >> that's a good start. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you very much, senator. senator risch? >> the endangered lives of americans and they can't be tolerated in the business we're
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in. you agree with that, endanger the lives of americans, and they can't be tolerated in the business we're in. and you agree with that i gather. >> absolutely, senator. >> okay. well, i want to talk to you about a person who i believe and i think you acknowledge is one of the most dangerous people on the planet, and that's ibrahim al asari. the conversation you had was referring to the interview you gave that talked about the plot that was unconfvered that invold him. do you recall that conversation? >> yes, i do. >> i have in front of me the reuters article describing your engagement with the media regarding the plot.
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and you're familiar with that article i would assume. >> i have read many articles so i would presume i read that one. >> this particular one is the one that is seminal i think as far as the leak itself and how we got to where we are on this. i want to quote from the article. it says at about 5:45 p.m. eastern daylight time on monday may 7th, just before the evening newscasts, john brennan, president barack obama's top white house adviser on counterterrori counterterrorism, 4e8d held a small private teleconference to brief adviser who had become frequent commentators on tv news shows. is that an accurate statement? >> yes. >> can you tell me who was involved in that conversation? who was involved in that interview? >> i believe that the people who were on that phone included one of my predecessors, fran townsend, roger cressey, richard
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clarke, i think these are individuals who served in the government and are counterterrorism professionals. >> any others you can think of? >> i do not remember the others. >> do you have notes from that conversation? >> there are notes, yes, that people took, yes. >> have those been turned over to the justice department? >> the justice department, i voluntarily and eagerly engaged in that -- >> that wasn't the question. have those notes been turned over? >> everything that was available on that has been turned over to the department of justice, absolutely, senator. >> did you turn those notes over? >> my office turned over everything that was available about that, yes. >> who took those notes? >> senator, i was not taking notes at the time. there were people also from the white house who were on that conversation as we do with all of these types of engagements. >> and who were the people who were involved in that conversation? >> aside from the reporters?
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there was somebody from the white house press office and someone from the counterterrorism dir rector yacht. >> you don't know the people's name? >> i do. nicholas and kate haydn. >> those are the two people from the white house. >> that's my recollection of who was involved in that conference call. >> may 7th was the date the incident occurred, is that correct? >> the date of the conversation with those reporters? >> excuse me. the date of the underlying event that you were talking about involving mr. asiri. >> now you're talking about mr. asiri in terms of being the person who was responsible for putting together the ied -- >> correct. >> i believe may 7th was about the right date, yes. >> and can you tell me why you felt compelled to release that information to these people on may 7th, 2012? >> as i explained on the network news the following morning and as we said publicly, that device was not a threat to the american public at the time of the bin laden anniversary -- >> i don't wan